Just as family is important within our Republic Airways company and culture, la familia is the epicenter of Hispanic culture, and throughout Hispanic Heritage Month, we’re sharing stories of our Hispanic Associates and how they found their family within their aviation careers. To start, we catch up with Republic Associates Alvaro Ramirez Davila and Sandra Patiño. Alvaro is a Senior Financial Consultant and has worked at Republic since June 2019. Sandra works as an Accounting Manager after joining Republic as a Supply Chain Intern in 2018. Both are active volunteers with the Indiana Latino Institute.
Get to know more about how Alvaro and Sandra connect their Hispanic Heritage to their work at Republic and career paths in aviation.
Please share a bit about yourself and your Hispanic heritage.
Alvaro Ramirez Davila: I was born and raised in Peru’s capital city, Lima. It’s a very diverse city, not just with a large international community, but also among the Peruvian population. We have people from the Andes mountains tothe Amazon rainforest. Such diversity is reflected in our gastronomy.
Sandra Patiño: I’m a first generation Mexican-American and first-generation college graduate. My parents are originally from Guanajuato, Mexico. They immigrated to the United States, so their children could have a better life (the American Dream).
How has being Hispanic impacted or shaped your career success?
Alvaro: I think a lot of my career success has come from the opportunities afforded to me by my family and by being in the nation’s center of commerce – like Lima. I learned very early on in my career to work with people of all different nationalities and backgrounds, which benefitted me when it came time to apply to grad schools in the U.S. It’s opened my eyes to new opportunities like Prospanica – an organization for Latinx business professionals. It has made me more adaptable to change and helped shape my world view.
How has being Hispanic impacted your experience in achieving your dreams?
Sandra: I was fortunate enough to be raised in a bilingual environment, and I believe it has contributed to my ability to think outside the box. Growing up, I often found there was more than one way to get things done, whether it’s communicating, cooking or just about anything else! It’s instilled the belief, “If there’s a will, there’s a way.” My prime example was when I decided to visit China. I couldn’t afford a ticket there, but I came across the opportunity to teach English at the Civil Aviation University of China. I knew I had to seize the opportunity if I was ever to cross it off my bucket list!
How has your Hispanic culture prepared you or empowered you for this career?
Alvaro: There is a strong sense of community and willingness to help others in Peruvian culture, and I think other Hispanics would say the same. I have a great support system in my family and friends. They have pushed me to take risks and dream big. My parents themselves are business owners, so there has always been a lot of ambition in my family.
Sandra: When my parents were growing up in Mexico, education was not free. Where they grew up, one would only go to high school if there was money. As a result, neither of my parents are high school graduates. I feel like education has a priceless value in our culture, and that value has shaped the way I prepared for my career. For example, I graduated with distinction from Purdue University because I wanted to make sure I did everything in my power to set my career on the best course for success. Since then, I’ve earned both my private pilot and my CPA license in effort to position myself for growth in the aviation industry.
How do you see yourself inspiring Hispanic youth to explore a career in aviation?
Alvaro: To me, representation matters. We have a lot of Hispanic people working in different parts of the organization, many are crew members, maintenance or other hourly workers. There’s opportunity to build our Hispanic population in our administrative positions, and I’m glad Sandra and I can be ambassadors for that growth. I love how my journey with finance has brought me here – I’ve always been a total plane and travel nerd, so this is the perfect fit for me. I want youth to know that a career in aviation doesn’t necessarily mean being on the plane. There is so much you can do to support the organization, whatever your interests and passions may be.
How do you see yourself inspiring other Hispanic youth, specifically Hispanic females, to explore a career in aviation?
Sandra: Unlike the United States, Mexico didn’t have an emphasis on a space program or the need for distant air travel. Additionally, our families are large, making air travel mostly unaffordable. This means our parents didn’t grow up dreaming to be astronauts or pilots. When talking to them about a potential career in aviation, have some patience. Without patience, I would never have pursued aviation because my parents considered it too risky of a career move. I believe the next generation of Latinx youth will be the aviation trailblazers for our culture. I’d like to remind them of how inspiring it can be to know they will play a major role in leading the way for future Hispanic aviators.
Do you see similarities between your Hispanic culture and the culture of Republic?
Alvaro: I do feel that at Republic your team is like your community. People are friendly and inclusive. Lately, I see an increased awareness, and I’ve received more questions about my background and my experiences, and I really appreciate that. I think greater understanding is the way to build a stronger future together.
Sandra: Growing up in the Latino culture, I have found we do our best help each other out and be resourceful. At Republic, those values are also part of our guiding principles. I often tell people, “When I was training for my private pilot certificate, it wasn’t like you could just pull over to the side of the road and ask for help.” The connection to other people expands your toolbox, and you never know when you’ll need it. I feel like that same cultural unity has allowed me to fit in at Republic’s culture. We work as a team to pull everything together with what’s available.
At Republic, we believe it’s important to give back and engage with the communities we live in and serve. Can you share ways you’re engaged with your community?
Alvaro: I am still fairly new to the local community here. One thing I’ve pursued is my involvement with Prospanica’s Indianapolis chapter. I serve on the board as the Director of Professional Development. I aim to connect students and working professionals to the greater Hispanic network that exists nationally as well as locally here in Indianapolis. I’ve also helped the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce work with Latinx business owners to get their finances on a sustainable track.
Sandra: I can tell you one of my favorite memories was when I was an intern and we did a partnership event with the Boys and Girls Club. We spent the day mentoring and introducing students to the aviation industry. During the day, I remember visiting the maintenance hangar and seeing everyone’s faces light up when we got up close to an airplane. For many of them, it was their first time at an airport and getting up close to an airplane was a real treat. It was a special experience to be a part of.
Is there anything else you would like to share about your heritage, career journey or time at Republic?
Alvaro: During Hispanic Heritage Month it’s fun to learn about the different Hispanic cultures that are present in the U.S. I am grateful to work on the same team as Sandra and share in Hispanic Heritage Month with her. During our time working together we have come to realize that we have a lot of similarities but also lots of differences within our cultures. Overall, I think that our cultures have the same intent but are displayed differently.
Sandra: “Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month” was never something I focused on as a child. My parents raised me to believe we are all on the same starting line, and my success in life would be possible regardless of gender or race. As I grew older, I’ve come to understand, that’s not the point of HHM. I believe Hispanic Heritage Month provides an avenue that allows us to showcase our success stories, traditions and invite people to experience our culture. We are all the same, yes, but when I opened my own eyes wider, I was able to learn things like , not all Hispanics like spicy food, not everyone in South America speaks Spanish and so on. I’m grateful to have the chance to work so closely with my teammate Alvaro because he exposes me to his Peruvian culture daily. I think it’s a real blessing to be able to bond with him and travel to his side of the world without having to jump on an airplane!
The Indiana Latino Institute, which Alvaro and Sandra are both part of, is a non-profit that works to improve the health and advance education for the Indiana Latino community through statewide advocacy, research and culturally responsive programs. Their initiatives provide a support network of services and programming geared toward helping those in need and encouraging the Indiana Latino population and the organizations that serve them to become informed, educated and empowered. They believe that their selected initiatives will allow our Indiana Latino Communities to become a stronger, more self-sufficient and thriving population, able to work together for a better and more promising future for all citizens.
To learn more about or volunteer with the Indiana Latino Institute, visit http://indianalatinoinstitute.org/